Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre starts support group for parents, carers of autistic children in Nelson Bay

Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre is calling on parents and carers of children with autism to join its new support group.

The twice monthly meetings were founded in March, coming after the centre realised there was a gap in support services for parents and carers of autistic children on the Tomaree Peninsula.

"We had a lot of people coming in to the neighbourhood centre asking if there was a support group. We did some research and discovered there was no support group from Medowie to Nelson Bay," Clare Saunders from the centre said.

Topics that group cover at the meetings are self directed. However, Ms Saunders or neighbourhood centre volunteer Helen Dykes are on hand to help.

"A lot of what is talked about is the NDIS and general situations that have arisen," Ms Saunders said. "The group has talked about how their child copes in school and even about getting their hair cut."

Ms Dykes said members of the group shared a special understanding with each other.

"They're sharing their situation with people at the meeting that understand exactly what they're going through, which is different from talking to friends and families who don't have autistic children," she said.

The group meets the first and third Tuesday of the month 10am to 11.30am in the Elizabeth Waring Function Room at Tomree Sports Complex.

On May 21, Taylors Beach-based occupational therapist Rhiannon Cripse will join the meeting to guide members through an essential oils workshop.

The workshop will cover topics such as how oils can be used for self regulation, managing emotions, natural remedies and low-tox living.

The neighbourhood centre has organised for the Aspects Autism Advisory to attend the July 4 meeting.

Topics the advisory representatives will be covering include autism spectrum disorders, area-specific family support and therapy options and transitioning to the NDIS.

Register to attend the support group meetings by phoning the not-for-profit Salamander Bay-based neighbourhood centre by phoning (02) 4984 6220.

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